Heinrich-Heine Economics Professorship 2017/2018

Digitalization, Innovation and Sustainability: Transforming the Chemical Industry

With the support of the Dr. Jost Henkel Stiftung, the University of Düsseldorf established the “Heinrich Heine Economics Professorship” in 2011. This award serves to honor important personalities from academia and the business world who have taken a distinctive, contributory stance on current economic affairs and policy issues. Recipients to date: Prof. Dr. Dres. h.c. Hans-Werner Sinn, President of the Munich ifo Institute (2011), René Obermann, Chairman of the Board of Management of Deutsche Telekom (2012), and Prof. Dr. Claudia Buch, Vice President of the Bundesbank (2015).

As the latest nominee to the Heinrich Heine Economics Professorship, Dr. Kurt Bock, Chairman of the Board of Executive Directors of BASF SE, held the first of two public lectures at Heinrich Heine University on December 6, 2017. His theme: Transforming the chemical industry – consequences for corporate management and governmental policy. He cited “Chemistry 4.0,” “Circular Economy” and innovations for a sustainable future as just some of the responses to current challenges, with which the chemical industry is underpinning its competitiveness.

Dr. Kurt Bock spoke about the technological and societal trends in the industry, as well as highlighting the macroeconomic and industrial policy imperatives that have created new challenges for corporate management – for example in relation to strategic orientation or portfolio and innovation management. Particularly in the field of digitalization, he stressed, it is important to distinguish myths from real opportunities and risks, and to implement the right measures. But it is not only companies that are required to do their bit; it is also up to policymakers to help pave the way – for example, by creating an innovation-friendly regulatory framework in Europe.